Ubuntu-LB Third undersea cable cut in Middle East

Dani Soufi danisoufi at gmail.com
Tue Feb 5 16:08:43 GMT 2008

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A third undersea cable was cut on Friday, just two days
after two breaks near Egypt disrupted Web access in parts of the Middle East
and Asia, Indian-owned cable network operator FLAG Telecom said.

Egypt lost more than half its Internet capacity because of Wednesday's
breaks and intends to seek compensation, its ministry of communications said
in a news release.

India's booming outsourcing industry, which provides a range of back-office
services, like insurance claims processing and customer support to overseas
clients over the Internet, played down Wednesday's disruption, saying they
had used back-up plans.

FLAG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of India's number two mobile operator
Reliance Communications, said on its Web site on Friday its FALCON cable had
been reported cut at 0559 GMT, 56 kms (35 miles) from Dubai, between the
United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Egyptian telecom authorities said about 55 percent of the country's Internet
capacity had been restored by Friday, thanks to rerouting of traffic.

Egypt is to ask FLAG and SEA-ME-WE to compensate its Internet and call
centre companies.

The communications minister, Tarek Kamel, has also decided to make Egypt's
Internet Service Providers and Telecom Egypt compensate all their Internet
subscribers by providing them with a month's subscription free of charge.
The International Cable Protection Committee, an association of 86 submarine
cable operators dedicated to safeguarding undersea cables, has declined to
speculate on the cause of the breaches, saying investigations were underway.

It said more than 95 percent of transoceanic telecoms and data traffic are
carried by undersea, the rest by satellite.


"The repair ship has been notified and expected to arrive at the (Dubai)
site in (the) next few days," FLAG said.

The Internet Service Providers' Association of India said cable repair ships
had already been sent to fix the breaches off northern Egypt, which are in
segments of two intercontinental cables known as SEA-ME-WE-4 and FLAG

FLAG said these repairs should start by Feb. 5 and be complete after one

Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association,
said all of FLAG's traffic had now been shifted to the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable

FLAG's rival, Indian Internet service provider Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd
(VSNL), said the majority of its Internet services to the Middle East and
North Africa had been restored within 24 hours, as had services to India.
VSNL said in a statement it had used the SEA-ME-WE-3, SEA-WE-ME-4 eastbound
and TIC cable to reroute customer traffic.

U.S. phone companies Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc both use the
cables which were affected on Wednesday. AT&T said on Thursday its networks
were already back to normal as it had rerouted traffic and Verizon expected
service to be restored for all its customers within days.

One of the biggest disruptions of modern telecoms systems was in December
2006, when a magnitude 7.1 earthquake broke nine submarine cables between
Taiwan and the Philippines, cutting connections between southeast Asia and
the rest of the world.

Internet links were thrown out in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan
and the Philippines, disrupting the activities of banks, airlines and all
kinds of email users.

Traffic was rerouted through other cables, but it took 49 days to restore
full capacity.

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